Planken, LI


Recent comments

Re: Online Reviews Can Hurt Contractors and Homeowners

Once it comes to the point of blasting the contractor or the homeowner on some website, the situation is just plain out of hand. I've made it a point to look ahead and see how to prevent things from going that far.

As a homeowner, I've had my share of experience with good and bad contractors - on both sides of the Atlantic. Before contracting out work, I try to inform myself as much as possible about how the work should be done. Fine Homebuilding's articles and videos have been a big help and of course investigating building code requirements. This helps me to evaluate prospective contractors and in the event of getting a bad one, to know when to fire the contractor before the problem gets really out of hand. Admittedly, being a retired civil engineer with structural experience and an enthusiastic DIYer, I may have an unfair advantage over the average homeowner. All the same, it has been necessary for me to fire contractors - in New York and in Switzerland.

One thing that makes the situation in Europe slightly better is widespread and uniform apprenticeship training. In the U.S. the on-the-job training that most young workers get depends largely on the competence of the contractor doing the training and this is just not uniformly good.

A couple tips for homeowners: Don't employ the contractor who talks the best. Insist on visiting him/her on one or more jobsites and in his/her shop. If you have to employ a contractor whom you do not know, employ him/her to do some work of limited scope. If you are satisfied with that, then maybe give him/her the whole addition to build.

Re: New Mexico Cliff House

This is a real gem. I'd love to see some interior photos.

Re: Cedar deck with glass and steel

I can't figure out the purpose of the glass panels in the deck. It looks like the space below is closed off. Could it be to introduce reflection from the trees during the daytime?

If the purpose of the glass panels is to provide lighting, then it is a bad idea as is all outdoor lighting that faces up. Outdoor lighting should point downward and be shielded as far a possible.

The transparent railing is great! Somebody ought to write a technical brochure on the various ways to make deck railing transparent. On a current project, I am using 3" x 2" green vinyl coated 16 gauge garden fencing fastened to 4x4 posts, 2x6 top rail and 2x4 cats that are 4" off the deck. (This is a cheap solution but not all building officials will allow it.)

My big gripe with most deck railings is that they are so closed in that the user may as well not be outside.